The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids | WIRED
I don’t agree with everything unschoolers do (rejecting standardized tests is pretty impractical if you want to go to most colleges, learning what you want means you never get exposed to other important things you might really like, and so on), but I think they do a fantastic job questioning doing what we do just because we’ve always done it. You don’t (and, frankly, shouldn’t) agree with everything here, but I can personally identify with a lot of it. I loved homeschooling, and if you’re going to critique it, you should at least know what it looks like.
And yet, as I talked to more of these homeschoolers, I found it harder to dismiss what they were saying. My son is in kindergarten, and I fear that his natural curiosity won’t withstand 12 years of standardized tests, underfunded and overcrowded classrooms, and constant performance anxiety. The Internet has already overturned the way we connect with friends, meet potential paramours, buy and sell products, produce and consume media, and manufacture and deliver goods. Every one of those processes has become more intimate, more personal, and more meaningful. Maybe education can work the same way.
What if the first year of college was free — and online?
The most common argument against this is that online education is inferior to face-to-face education. A few thoughts on this from personal experience:*
- The difference between an online class and a 450 person lecture hall is pretty minimal. In fact, I think I got more access to my online teachers, because they were expected to respond to emails
- “Face-to-face” teachers are often very much idealized. If (and this is a big assumption) an MIT physics professor is substantially better than a community college physics professor, does having the latter in a face-to-face classroom really outweigh the lecturing advantages of the former?
- The subjects really make a difference. I don’t think you could replicate a quality upper level English seminar in an edX setting. Then again, I’m not sure you get access to these types of classes in the first year of most colleges
For what it’s worth, I used to be really skeptical of online college, until one of my friends who basically just did online courses and CLEPs (all four years – not just freshman year) just got into a top five law school.
*I took seven online classes in high school, all of them AP classes from PA Homeschoolers. They were awesome, and quite a few of my Princeton classmates also did PA Homeschoolers.
The homeschooling silent majority
When you read the headlines, it becomes easy to forget that many homeschoolers fall nowhere near the fundamentalist Christian camp outlined in Joyce’s story, and that even many who do buy gifts from Vision Forum and send their children to Patrick Henry College are sane, loving, empowering parents. They’re not the ones we hear about.
Military families embracing homeschooling
More military parents are embracing home schooling, rejecting the age-old tradition of switching schools for their children when they are redeployed.
(via Walter Russell Mead)